It’s All in Your Head
When back in 2000 I found out that I had cancer, I was somewhat shocked. I knew what was wrong with me was bad. Not knowing what it was, I didn’t have anyone to talk to, surely not my wife. I had a good guy I made friends with at school who was a custodian. He was a large guy, and his bosses gave him a hard time, but all the secretaries and faculty loved him. He had an infectious laugh and would help anyone with anything. He didn’t make much in his job so on Fridays, when he got paid, he asked me to cash his check. I did willingly because he has high blood pressure and he needed to get his medications as soon as possible. I found out that he had to decide from week to week whether to pay rent, eat, or buy his blood pressure medications. I would lend him money and keep a running total. I fed him lunch free every day and at the end of the week if I had food that I had to get rid of I would take it and bag it up and give it to him. He would take anything and was not picky. My friend had to ride a bus for 3 to 4 hours a day to get to his job. Man, with that kind of attitude and his willingness to work, how could you not like the guy. He was in his 40s. He would help me with things when I needed it. If I needed to move a vending machine, he would move it for me, take out the trash for me on his lunch break. He loved music, especially Motown. I would have the radio tuned in to an oldies station and he would come in eat his lunch in the back room and sing with the music. He could sing very well, so in the afternoons he would come in and sit with me and listen to music while I would do paper work. I got to know a lot about my friend his family. We found ourselves singing to the same music. I told him I had all those records and he said he did too. I did make him some tapes so he could have something to listen to when he went back and forth on that long bus ride to and from work. I chose this black friend whom I could trust not to tell anyone what I was thinking. I told him I knew I had something bad but I wasn’t sure what it was, but I was afraid it was cancer. I told him I was scared and I started tearing up and I looked at him and he put his bad hand on mine, and I looked at him and he was crying also. I was so touched. I told him if things turned out bad, I wanted someone to know a head of time and made sure he told my wife because he knew her as well. When the prognosis came true and I went in to the hospital, my friend never repeated to anyone what we talked about. He would come in and ask about me 3 to 4 times a day. I told my workers to look out for my friend. Here it is a visually impaired white guy and a black guy over weight and not much education becoming friends and each of us getting encouragement from each other. That is what friendship it is. Friendship doesn’t know gender, age, color, or economic status. He and I didn’t care. I had a friend to talk whom I knew could keep a secret and he had a friend who made sure his rent was paid and he was fed so he could buy his medications.
When I was in the hospital, a woman came in from the cancer association to talk to me. She was an older lady who took my hand and instead of giving me hope and encouragement she was doom and gloom, going on and on about side effects and how bad I would feel during treatment. She scared the hell out of me and upset me so bad I told my wife not to ever let that woman near me. My wife was really upset as well.
I, at a young age, having to go away to school was always taught you can overcome anything if you try and have a good attitude. All of us visually impaired students were taught this from every one; our teachers, the house parents, and the administration. We were taught no matter whether you could see or not, you had to learn to do everything for yourself. We got to compete against each other in academics, running for class offices, and participating in clubs. The big boost came from the athletics. Wrestling and track. We got so much encouragement from the coaches, teachers, administration, and other students, that if we worked hard anything was possible. The more I won, the stronger my confidence got and he better my attitude. We participated 90% of the time against public schools and the other 10% against blind schools. So when I found out what I had to do every day, I knew from my upbringing how I was taught and knew I was tough enough to fight whatever was coming. Most people didn’t think I would make it as I had only a 4% chance to survive. With the wisdom of good doctors, the help support of my friends and family, and most importantly my wife, I was prepared to tackle it head on. I knew my friend had a struggle to survive every day and so did I and I didn’t want to let him or myself down. The most important person I didn’t want to let down was my wife. Now here it is going on 17 years later and I am still here. Sadly, my friend died of diabetes because he couldn’t buy his blood pressure medications and didn’t let me know and that was the start of his down fall. Now he is gone and I am still here.
I have had all sort of side effects from my chemotherapy and radiation treatments over the years but I have met them head on thinking I can conquer whatever comes my way if I don’t give up, do what the doctors say, and with the most important person in my life, my wife. I have never lost the attitude and confidence to overcome anything.
I know some of my post are wordy, but it is words, attitude, help, and the willingness to try, that I want to get across in this post. No matter how bad off you are or who you are, your body belongs to you and if you give it a chance by trying, you will be surprised to see how it responds. I know things like what I have talked about doesn’t ring true in every case, but try everything you can, and the odds are that you may be that person that gets through cancer as I did. Remember it all starts with your attitude and confidence. The best medicine you can get is your attitude because the doctors can only do so much.
Blind Blender Man